By Phil Heidenreich Online journalist Global News Source
EDMONTON – The fire that swept through Fort McMurray and still rages through the northern forest likely destroyed all wildlife in its path, according to one expert. But the disaster’s impact on wildlife has yet to be documented.
“There’s not very much that can survive those fires,” Lu Carbyn, an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta as well as a leading expert on wolf biology, says. “In some cases, if the fire’s not too hot, and if you are a burrowing species – like some species of rodents and so on, and maybe even some species of insects, although that’s doubtful – there may be some small elements that might survive pockets of fires but certainly broad scale, there would be massive destruction of anything that’s caught up in these fires.”
“Wildlife populations have adjusted to take this sort of long-term change into consideration – I mean that’s evolution,” the retired research scientist with the Canadian Wildlife Service says. “What happens in big fires is that plant succession would be set back and as a result there would be a rejuvenation of the process of the maturation of plant systems. So you’d have stages that are sort of the latter part of plant succession and some that are at the earlier stages of plant succession, and so different wildlife complexes would adjust to those different successional stages.”
Plant succession refers to changes in vegetation in a specific area over a period of time and is dependent on factors like disasters, changing conditions or human activity. While area wildlife will adjust to these changes over time, Carbyn says the fire would have been catastrophic to most animals in the area in the immediate aftermath of the blaze. Click here to go to full article